How to say the French R sound (VIDEO)

Written by Diane on. Posted in France, on life in France

how to say the french r sound

For those of us learning French, the “R” sound is the stuff nightmares are made of. It’s a sound that’s not found in English so naturally we struggle. It often comes off too harsh when we try to mimic what we’re hearing or we just give up and go to the other extreme and pronounce it like the English R. Both are wrong. So how do you say the French R?

I’m explaining what worked for me in today’s video…

Go watch!

How to say the French R

Once you master the French R you’ll feel like a million bucks. Once you get it even a little, you’ll feel so proud of yourself. There’s not just one way to learn it, so I’m sharing how I was taught and what worked for me. Practice makes perfect so stick with it.

Something I said in the video is that the “r” is actually much more subtle than language learners think. If you listen to a native speaker, it’s there but not so overdone that it sounds like they’re gargling. Once you master it, dial it back.

Don’t forget to check out my video debut on French words that are hard for Americans to say >>

Sooooo… let me preface this by saying 2 things. First, I have 0 experience being on camera or making/editing videos, so I’m learning as I go. I repeat, I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing. My cluelessness of all things video has stopped me from making videos up until now but I think videos can be really fun, so I said to myself, stop putting it off and just try. So I am. I promise you they’ll get better as I go. Second, in the example I gave, while it’s not majorly wrong, it’s probably more natural to say ma couleur préferée est le rouge. But for example purposes, what I said is OK. Just noting that I realize the more natural way is to say “le” but didn’t want to refilm. 😉

Now for the video on how to say the French R…

How has learning how to say the French R been for you? Did my tips help?

And if you’d like to see something in particular in a future video, let me know below!!  

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Comments (19)

  • Cynthia

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    Diane you are natural teacher It’s like you are sitting in the living room with your viewers having a personal chat ! I think that this is going to be a very big part of your work ! I also feel that what is on the inside of a person reflects on the outward as to how they come across. You are a warm and sincere person. In this age of false showmanship it’s great to see someone who is genuine ! You are so beautiful ! Have a blessed week !

    Reply

    • Diane

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      You’re too kind, Cynthia. Thank you so much

      Reply

  • Mary

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    Best. Tip. Ever. I’ve given myself a sore throat on numerous occasions practicing that bloody R!

    Reply

    • Diane

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      OMG did it really help you, Mary?? Hoping it helped at least one person. That’s how my French teacher taught me and it just clicked. Tried my best there to convey what she said. SO HAPPY if it helped you. SWEET

      Reply

  • Ronnie

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    I will be staying in Montmarte next May and my son keeps
    telling me I’m not pronouncing “martre” correctly and now
    I understand why! Thank you! You’re a great teacher, love your videos!

    Reply

    • Diane

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      Thanks so much, Ronnie. Did it really help you? So, so happy. Keep that tongue lightly behind the bottom teeth and that should help somewhat. Even just saying “R” in English w/the tongue down and loose behind the teeth is a good exercise too. It’ll force you to say the French R. And really breathe into it.

      Reply

  • Jackie

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    Two thumbs up ! ! ! Great video.

    Reply

    • Diane

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      Thank you!

      Reply

  • Paula H

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    Diane, this was delightful and informative! Thanks so much for posting this.

    Reply

    • Diane

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      You’re very welcome!

      Reply

  • Lori

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    Thank you!!! Great video. Please do more. I just started taking French and I sound like your examples. Haha, so thank you. I

    Reply

    • Diane

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      You’re very welcome! I will absolutely do more. With practice, you can learn to say the sounds little by little so hang in there

      Reply

  • CatherineRose

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    This is an awesome tip! I’m a former classical singer (so I spent half my life doing funny throat/tongue/breathing exercises like this) but I never thought about tongue placement for the French r this way. I always just concentrated on what was going on with my throat. Thinking about relaxing my tongue instead of producing the r in my throat makes a big difference. My accent isn’t pronounced but I hate it all the same. Thanks for the tip and congrats on your first video!

    Reply

  • Erin

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    Hi Diane, I live in Australia and I am currently learning French. This video was so helpful for me and also fun to watch 🙂 I’ve only just recently found your blog and I’ve been enjoying reading all your old posts. I look forward to seeing more videos in the future. Thanks again, Erin

    Reply

  • Jand

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    Hi Diane !

    I am happy That you like France 🙂
    Your blog is very interesting and your point of view is true about so Many things…
    My Mum is american but i live in Versailles (close to Paris)
    If you come to Paris i Will give you great place where you Will have Nice Time.

    Best regards
    Jane

    Reply

    • Diane

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      Yay so glad it was helpful!

      Reply

  • Vivi

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    Merci beaucoup de votre vidéo ; ça m’a beaucoup aidée ! Pensez-vous que vous allez faire une vidéo pour apprendre le son “u” ?

    Reply

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